APS September Meeting 2019


The food line…

Once again, on the third Monday of the month, regular as clockwork, the Austin Pond Society held it’s monthly meeting at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens Meeting room.

The meeting was attended by 40 members all of whom enjoyed Chinese from one of our Sponsors, Bamboo Bistro. The food was delicious made even more so for me that I am currently on a Chinese Food kick, eating it at home on a regular basis. Members brought in other foods including salads and deserts.

The evenings meeting comprised of two separate parts although they were intermingled together and happening at the same time. Indoors, there was the Annual Calendar Photo contest which always raises a lot of interest with the Members putting some pretty spectacular photos on display in the hope of having them placed in next years Calendar. Not only that, this year the winners were awarded cash prizes which by mutual agreement of the Board Members was not only reinstated but the actual prizes were increased with the winners in each bracket getting $50.00, second place $30.00 and third place $20.00. There are four separate brackets, fish, pond plants, pond creatures and ponds and/or water features.

There was also some time spent by the Nomination Committee on announcing the proposed upcoming Board Members at least to this point. The actual voting will occur at the next meeting in October but Margaret as head of this committee wanted to show the members what the line up currently looks like and to try to persuade the Members to volunteer for the remaining positions, the biggest of these in terms of importance being that of the Pond Tour Chairman. There is some discussion of splitting these duties and two people combining to fill this very important post without whom, there will be no Pond Tour. Cat Bilbrey has volunteered to be one of these people but we still need one more. We are still lacking a Hospitality person and Barb added that to her duties for this year but only out of necessity. Actually, it automatically makes whoever fills the role, the most popular person in the club.

The current proposed line up of current and new officers for 2020. Note that there are two positions, Tour Director (2) and Hospitality (1) that do not have names. The positions with the blue arrows are non voting positions on the Board and neither do they have to attend the Monthly Board Meeting.

The other part of the meeting was our Annual Swap and Sell where the Members bring in anything pond or garden related to swap or sell. This included plants and even a few fish although they usually have their own meeting earlier in the year entitled Plant Swap. There were not too many items on display although Darren had brought in a good supply of used pumps. BJ, as she usually does, brought in a whole bunch of different and unusual things which if nothing else, created some interest. The only large item equipment wise, was a Pond-O-Vac but it remained unsold at the end of the evening. This part of the meeting was not a qualified success and has not been for the past couple of years. I would not be a bit surprised if this is the last of the Annual Swap and Sell

The judging for the Picture contest took a bit longer than anticipated and because of the lack of interest in the Swap and Sell, resulted in the Members having to find items to talk about to fill in the time. It was a bit of a struggle but eventually, the winners were announced and received the applause and cash prizes to the delight of the Members.

The evening closed with the drawing of the door prizes with the usual catcalls and remarks of “fixed”, “draw again” as some popular member walked up to claim the prize.

The Swap and Sell part of the meeting
The business section of the Meeting

The next meeting will be October 21. The Speaker will be from Bastrop Gardens which is an all Natives Nursery. It will be about culinary plants that can be grown as companions to Pond and bog plants. Some of these plants are edible and the discussion will include this. Hope to see you there

Written 9/20/2019

Reimer’s Ranch 10-1-2017


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9 picture pano showing the Turkey Trail

Yesterdays walk was so easy comparatively speaking because of the fairly even surface, I felt good enough to go out again two days in a row. Again, contrary to my usual practise of not walking on weekends due to the crowds, I opted to take a walk at Reimers Ranch County Park to see if I could get some good bird pictures. It helps now that it is cooling down and is in the mid 80’s.

I drove to the very last Parking Area, the one that is also the lot for the Rock Climbers as I wanted to walk the Turkey Trail because it has been the most productive regarding bird and animal pictures so far. Going through my usual ritual, I donned all of my equipment and as suitably attired, headed for the trails.

Just as I was starting out, my path crossed with another hiker coming towards me and we exchanged greetings as we passed. I had already decided that I would sit at the bench at the intersection of the Turkey Trail and the Multi Use Trail not because I was tired but in the hope that sitting peacefully might encourage the birds to fly back into my neighborhood. I used my binos as I scanned the surrounding trees but to no avail. I saw one bird fly and perch and then could not find it in the foliage.

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A 5 picture Panorama of Milton Reimer’s Ranch

I gave up on the sitting idea and headed down the Multi Use Trail towards the westerly end of the park taking pictures along the way of the trail. I experimented carrying my poles in one hand and the camera in the other as this was also the location where I saw the deer last time out. This method worked out OK but there were no deer this time around. The trail got rougher and much steeper so the camera had to go back in its carrying harness.

I got to the bottom of the hill and watched a couple of horses come towards me. We exchanged greetings as they passed and they were quickly out of site. Four legs can cover a lot more ground and much faster than my two old ones. I turned off to take the bottom trail to head back to the parking lot. This is a fun trail to walk now that the Parks people have cleaned it up as it follows the river not more than 50 yards away. I passed a couple that asked about the trail and I was able to direct them to the nearest bench for them to eat lunch. They didn’t invite me, darn it…I passed several groups of flowers along the way and took pictures of the trails and rock formation.

I could hear the rock climbers off to my left as they were enjoying themselves with their very hazardous idea of fun. There are several different rock faces along the way and they all seemed to be occupied. Eventually, the lower trail that I was on merged with the upper trail used by the rock climbers as we neared the exit to the last parking lot. I stopped to let several of them pass me as again, they all walk faster than I do. Everybody does…They opted for the fourth exit but I  continued along the trail and headed for the third exit. I wanted to walk the short distance on the top trail just in case I could see anything worth photographing.

Little did I know that that was the best decision I had made for a long time as I continued along, I spotted a large bird flying over the river. At first, I thought it was just another buzzard except it was not using the air currents and floating as the buzzards do. This one seemed to have much more purpose as it flew. I got the binos out to take a closer look and the first thing that I saw was the white head and thought that it might be a Bald Eagle. It did not have the white tail feathers that the Eagles have but there was no mistaking the white head. Then I recognized it as an Osprey which are well known for their feats of diving into the water to catch fish.

Jeff Price-26

Totally submerged

I quickly got the camera with the long lens ready and went to work snapping pictures as quickly as I could. I watched it as it dove into the water and managed to get a picture of that but when it went in the second time, it was out of my view but I certainly heard the very loud splash. When it came back into view, it was carrying a large fish as it headed back up the river. I thought at first it might have had a nest close by but the nesting season is over.

I walked up the trail keeping an eye on where I thought it had landed and managed to locate it perched in a dead tree. I took a lot of pictures of it very glad that for the very first time, the expensive piece of glass that I had in my camera was going to pay off. I waited around taking the occasional picture but the bird did not seem to be in any hurry to eat the fish. I figured that it was not going fishing anymore today so I walked the trail to the third trailhead and made the difficult climb to the top.

A couple of older ladies wanted to know if they could get to the river from this parking lot and I directed them to where I had just come up warning them that they had to be very careful as it was a bit of a climb even going down. I started walking the gravel path on the very top of the bluff that connects all four of the parking lots heading back to the last one where I had parked my car. On the way, I heard a bird call and stopped and as I did so, a large bird flew off another dead tree very close to the trail. This one too had the white head and I don’t know if it was the same bird or if there are more than one now living in this area.

I arrived back to my parking area and made my way to the car giving yet more advice along the way to another older couple who wanted to get down to the river. I warned them it was not easy but they tried anyway. As I was sitting in my car, they drove off obviously not willing to make the climb down which is pretty difficult.

This has to be my most successful trip yet as far as taking pictures of wildlife, in this case, the Osprey. Obviously, this will not be my last in the never ending search for that perfect picture now that I know where to look. Funny that all of the times I have hiked at Reimer’s Ranch, and even though I have looked, I have not seen an Osprey before. Maybe it is a product of this Springs hatch.

Jeff Price-73

I took this picture of these flowers using the telephoto lens from way across the river.

Jeff Price

I drove back home very content with the hike. Altogether, I covered 5.8 miles not all on the trail as I also walked around the Supermarket on the way back.

Written 10/3/2017

Hiking on a Weekend…


DSC_0314I never really had any intent
to hike today thinking instead
I would stay inside and write in my blog
out of the sun and my thoughts to log
onto the page of the next blog I write
hoping to make it a wonderful sight
so that others can read the words on the page
and hope gain something as they engage
in reading this blog fresh from my mind
stories to share of the Nature kind.

I try not on a weekend to hike
not that it doesn’t give me delight
but I like to stay away from the crowd
as noisy and raucous as I have found
that out on the trails solitude makes
happiness when there are pictures to take
especially of animals and birds that need quiet
so as to not get their picture spoilt
a difficult time that often fails
approaching anything live on the trails
as my walking poles make so much noise
and there is no way to disguise
that something is coming and it’s time to flee
and they are gone before they see me.

As much as I like on the trails to meet
other people who are using their feet
getting around out on the path
walking and talking and so I ask
“Can I take your picture” as they walk by
and most of them give me a short reply
“Certainly” as I explain
that I write a blog but I refrain
from using their names just a picture or two
showing them smiling in my view.
I give them my card and wish them well
as I go forward on up the hill
one foot in front of the other I place
sticking to my usual slow pace
and like the tortoise who beat the hare
I reach the end of the trail that I share
with others like me who really feel
Nature’s serenity and beauty is something real.

A Walk At McKinney Roughs on 6-11-2017


DSC_6176

A peaceful place….


I found time to take another short walk and decided to head for my most favorite of places to hike and that is McKinney Roughs. Another reason that I wanted to get out was to try out a new camera carrying harness that allows me to carry two cameras at a time and to be able to choose which one based on the shot.

I have just bought a Nikon D7500 which along with my D7200, complement each other. I had a Tamron wide angled lens on one and my 18-300 Tamron telescopic lens on the other. I was able to change cameras depending on the view and the shot I was wanting to take. Another reason that I purchased the second camera was so that I could also use one of them, probably the D7200, to take the place of the video camera that I had that only got used 2 hours per month at the Austin Pond Society Meeting. So, I traded the video camera in taking a huge loss of course, partially to pay for the D7500 as I plan on using the D7200 to take the video of the meeting and the other camera for the still shots.

With all of that said, the D7500 has a few more bells and whistles which I haven’t a clue how to use although I was nicely surprised to find some of the day’s shots already on my cell phone with the Wi-Fi already set up. That’s both good and bad as I will quickly fill up my space allowance on the phone if I don’t control that. “Nuff said about the photography equipment.

I have walked McKinney so many times I rarely need the map but I carry it with me just in case. This time, I decided to walk down Bobcat Ridge to Pine Ridge and then onto Cypress which brought me down close to the river. Cypress and Riverside are beautifully shaded with intermittent views of the river. They are great trails when the weather is dry but get very muddy after any amount of rain. This is also a horse trail and the horses tend to cut up the softer trails after any rain to talk of.

From there, I took Bluff Trail Loop onto Ridge which brought me back to the parking lot. I never saw another hiker out on the trails and the only other people I saw were in the parking lot either getting ready to walk or had just completed their walks. Altogether, I covered 6 miles which is about my normal hiking length nowadays. I took a lot of pictures which I have turned into a slideshow. Most of the pics are of the trails as nearly all of the flowers are over for this season except in the parking lot where the gardens are in full bloom. Still not too many butterflies around yet. Maybe later in the year. I have yet to take any pictures of birds except for the White Egret down by the river. I hear the birds but can never see them. Same is true of any wildlife. I probably make so much noise with my walking poles that any animal type is long gone by the time I get there.

If you are looking for a place to take a hike, McKinney Roughs is the place to go. Most of the trails are shaded and only a couple have steep climbs and the scenery is very beautiful. I highly recommend it.

Below is the slideshow. Enjoy.

A Walk at McKinney Roughs 6-11-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Plans for today…


DSC_1963
I had plans today to spend my time
working on some things left outside around the ponds
and updating the Pond Society’s website
and then I was going for a hike at McKinney Roughs
my favorite hiking place.

Even the best laid plans can falter
as Mother Nature sometimes has other ideas
like she did today as it came onto rain
putting an end to both the garden work
and the hike.

But wait, the sun is coming out
and is shining brightly
and a quick glance at the weather site
on my computer shows just a shower
which passes quickly.

I can finish up my outside chores around the ponds
and quickly do the work I need to do on the website
and in a couple of hours be on my way
to McKinney to do the thing I like the best
hiking and taking pictures.

“We were born with two legs. We should use them…”

 

Hiking is good for the soul…


DSC_1062I love to hike this much is true
one of my most favorite things to do
to get outside and walk a trail
communing with Nature and all the while
exercising in the best possible way
breathing fresh air and striding along
wearing my boots and using my poles
taking pictures is one of my goals
to record the sights and portray in words
sights that I view completely free
to share the walks along with me
next to walking the thing I like most
is to write in my blog my words to post
along with the pictures that others may see
and enjoy the views along with me
as out on the trails as things unfold
the pictures show as the words told
of wondrous views, nature at her best
showing off her beauty while in my small way
I write the words and pictures display
for others to see on any day.

A Hot Day in Texas


DSC_5640It has been while it seems
from writing about my dreams
and other stuff that interest me
especially my photography.

Some days when I have a plan
to work on a project that I have devised
it may be out in the yard
or on one of the ponds of which I have five

Other days when it is hot
I stay inside and write a lot
about the things that I have done
or of places that I have seen.

Hiking the places I have not been
will give me more things that I can write
and all of the pictures that I take
I will post for others to enjoy the sights.

When it cools down…